Riding to the top on the back of the Internet digital age, Steve Carlson’s heavy touring across the country takes him to his legions of adoring fans who turn his concerts into sing-a-longs. The Southern California rocker has songs that are heartfelt and bursting with freewheeling energy!
Groovin On The Inside is Carlson's third solo album and he's cooked up a recipe that'll satisfy the appetites of those passionate fans. His voice is like sandpaper dipped in Tupelo honey and he wields it like a master chef, adding a spoonful of blues, a dash of jazz, a cup full of folk-rock and a big helping of blue-eyed soul. And food is more than just a metaphor for Steve. He can cook like a superstar too.
Carlson was born into a musical family in Pasadena, California and had a bohemian upbringing. Beginning to play guitar at the ripe young age of ten, he spent much of high school writing songs and playing in local bands, but he also developed a passion for food. After receiving his Culinary Arts degree in Portland, Oregon, he then migrated to Maui, Hawaii, where he continued to hone his cooking skills while soaking up the musical influences of island life.
He quickly discovered that rock music was in his bones, and returned to Los Angeles to take his music to the next level. In Hawaii Carlson began playing mandolin and steel guitar, which enhanced the acoustic flavor of his first two solo releases Spot In The Corner (2002) and Rollin’ On (2005).
In the last year alone Carlson has spent ten months on the road. He juggles his time between his RCA-signed band, Kane, where he is primary songwriter and guitarist, and his Steve Carlson Band, playing live concerts at home and on the road. All this activity has shot his new album Groovin On The Inside (2007) to the top of the charts on CD Baby—an awesome accomplishment on a website loaded with musical talent. Carlson’s songs have garnered over 140,000 spins on the fan-driven MySpace.com, and if you include his Kane-penned tracks, the collective total tops 545,000 spins.
Leading the charge to rock radio this summer is that achingly beautiful single and video, “I'll Remember You,” about a love that never ends. The lyrics recall Carlson building a table for his then girlfriend. Building furniture is another of his creative releases. The video has become a favorite at YouTube.com, with hot, steamy romantic scenes set against a backdrop of flowering mustard plants in the foothills to the gorgeous Topa Topa Mountains of Ojai, California. The clip caught the eye of The Beatles’ Ringo Starr, who acclaimed, “This guy fucking blew my mind.”
Carlson felt that the production values on this album would have to be much fuller than his first two releases, once he knew he'd be working for the first time with an outside producer, Darren Sher. “He and I had written together in the past, and we decided to re-record a track from each of the first two albums, and give the songs a funkier approach,” says Steve.
Groovin On The Inside is a line from the song “Wasted Jamie,” which originally appeared in a stripped-down version on Carlson's second solo album, Rollin' On. “I'm a happy person and most of the time I seem to be quietly observing even though I am entirely enjoying myself,” he explains. “When I was in the studio a few years back, there was this girl, Jamie, who was really hot with a nice tight waist. She was truly wasted and seemed to be wasting her time. So I was thinking about all that and I guess she saw this serious look on my face. She asked me if I was having a good time, and I told her I was groovin on the inside. At that moment I started writing the melody in my head and ended up finishing the song with Darren, who wanted to produce it this go around.”
Steve, with Sher, also reworked “Piñata Novia” from his first album, Spot In The Corner. “Piñata Novia” is a concert favorite that brilliantly meshes strings with Carlson's raspy vocals. The seductive song was inspired by a photograph Carlson's former girlfriend (Novia is Spanish for girlfriend). “The picture was taken at a Cinco De Mayo party,” says Steve. “She was wearing a flowered tiara, a señorita dress and there was a giant piñata raised behind her as the backdrop. The title is actually a metaphor, using a piñata to show how hard it is to find the sweetness within a rigid heart.”
A soulful toe-tapping anthem “If It Ain't Easy” kicks off the album with its driving beat and catchy melody. In the running for a follow-up single is “Now That My Love Is Gone,” co-written dancer/ choreographer Cris Judd. As with most of Carlson's songs it starts with a slower tempo and builds to a full-on triumphant conclusion. This song ends with a chorus of background singers helping the character in the song move on to a better place. A raw video of the track can be found on YouTube.com. Another great track from the album is a killer rendition of The Zombies 60's classic “She's Not There.” Steve takes great pains to make it his own style.
The reflective Groovin On The Inside presents observations of relationships with movie-like visuals and dramatic conclusions with strong harmonies, solid musicianship and seductive twists. Each song has a different perspective on life from this Renaissance man “You Belong To Me” is a heartbreaker about loving someone you shouldn't, with “Wonder of My World” touching on the same theme with a more upbeat tempo. “The One I Want” is a lover's plea, while The Beatlesque “Don't Move On,” which features only vocals and guitar, chronicles a love affair. For a real mind-blower, listen to the album's final track, “She Loves.” Steve adds a haunting riff for an opera singer that turns the song into a spectacular blend of musical elements.
Several of Steve’s songs have been placed in film and television projects with the track “Now That My Love Is Gone,” from the new album, being used in the motion pictures “Just Married,” “Life Or Something Like It,” “Memore” and the upcoming “Be My Baby.” From Carlson’s earlier album’s “Kinda Crazy These Days” has appeared in ABC’s “Men In Trees” while “Night Time” found placement on The WB’s “Supernatural” this past year.
If you can make it to a Steve Carlson concert you'll find yourself engulfed in a sea of people singing and dancing in a full-on celebration of music. Says Steve: “Be it a melancholy ballad or an upbeat jam, the music is about getting through the tough times and embracing the good times.”
In other words, it’s about Groovin On The Inside!
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